Another Thing American Kids Can`t Do…Play Tennis?
forward to this year. Over the
Labor Day weekend, I watched the
U.S. Open Tennis tournament`s historic match between losing
Andre Agassi and German Benjamin (no relation to Boris)
play, CBS commentator and former tennis great John McEnroe
mentioned that Becker
played for the Baylor University Bears while he was in
off-handedly, McEnroe asked his partner, veteran sportscaster
Dick Enberg, how many Americans did he guess play for
wanting to avoid controversy—responded that like many major
universities, the Baylor tennis squad is well stocked with
knew the specific answer to McEnroe`s question: there are
zero (0) Americans on the Baylor tennis team!
varsity tennis roster consists of eight players, two
Russian, an Australian, a Czech, a Hungarian, a Slovenian
and a Brit. (Contact Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw and
Tennis Coach Matt Knoll
presence of foreign players, many of them semi-pros in their
native country and several years older than the average college
student, is not a secret in the tennis community.
abuse of the process, initiated with an
F-1 student visa, is little known by casual sporting fans.
impact on American kids who are also outstanding players and
would love to have the same opportunity is rarely, if ever,
top 125 players ranked by the Intercollegiate Tennis
90 are foreign-born.
give you more specific information because, no accident I`m
sure, many players list their hometowns, home countries, birth
dates and major courses of study as
common vital statistics are “not available” is a mystery
since that information absolutely must be on the student`s
passport. Perhaps the players and their universities have
something to hide?
2001, every ITA National Player of the Year, has been
Kohlloeffel, UCLA, Germany; 2005,
Benedikt Dorsch, Baylor University, Germany; 2004;
Amer Delic, University of Illinois, 2003,
Bosnia and 2001-2002 Matias Boeker, University of Georgia,
good schools, don`t you agree? Wouldn`t it be nice if your
tennis-playing child could compete for a scholarship and a spot
on one of those prestigious teams?
not likely to happen given tennis` slide into the
how Baylor Coach Knoll sees it:
“But when we start going head
to head with
UCLA … we can`t beat them for these kids. So do we let Duke
beat our brains in because we`re taking third-tier Americans
while they`re picking from the first tier? Or do we get
first-tier (foreign) kids and try to beat them? What would you
Enjoys Success With Foreign Athletes, by Jason King, Kansas City Star, June 14, 2006]
I spoke with a former
California college tennis star and coach who has been fighting
NCAA for years to get a resolution so that young Americans
could have a fair shot at these great opportunities.
Here`s what he told me:
coaches wanted to limit the number of foreign players per team.
But our lawyers said it would kick in legal issues and we would
not be able to do it without risking lawsuits.
Doubtful. No university coach has to
justify to anyone
which players he ultimately selects
for his team.]
“We spent years
with NCAA trying to get stricter rules and better compliance. In
brief, both coaches and
foreign players found loopholes and ways around the rules…..
is still constant disagreement whether recruited international
players are amateur or pro. One university NCAA compliance
officer (e-mail the NCAA public relations
office) may say they are pro and can`t be recruited—yet same
kid will show up playing for another school.
come knocking on coach`s doors—free education and a way to keep
playing tennis. Also coaches now go to Europe and all over the
globe to recruit. The rest of world has no
organized college sports. International kids decide to go
pro at age 16. If they haven`t made it by 21, they look to U.S.
Sounds like there`s no
scholarship in the offing for your youngster—boy or girl,
since the same foreign-player obstacle exists in collegiate
Not only are Americans shut out of academic
benefits, but the foreign-born player may stay on after he gets
his taxpayer subsidized university degree to beat up on your kid
again in the job market.
The overseas player who starts out with a
non-immigrant F-1 student visa often ends up—either by
marrying an American or getting a savvy
immigration lawyer—becoming a permanent resident and thus a
candidate for solid jobs.
Ask yourself this: your kid and Mr.
UCLA/International Tennis star both interview for a fast-track
Citibank. Who gets employed?
I view the loss of college tennis innocence
with particular sadness.
When I played on the University of
Pittsburgh team, no one would have had to travel to Argentina to
find better players. There were plenty of them right across the
state line in Ohio.
Since tennis wasn`t a major sport at Pitt,
we didn`t get scholarships. We got a free pass to the school
cafeteria for three months and a racquet.
Each March, we shoveled snow off the courts
to practice whenever the weather permitted. We were gearing up
for our annual April trip south where we played against the
United States Naval Academy,
Georgetown and major universities in North Carolina and
We got hammered at every stop, of course.
But at least we took our pounding from fellow Americans.
I learned that college tennis is a team
sport. Gloating was not permitted. If you won your match but the
team lost, that`s a bad day.
Conversely, if you lost but the team won,
then all was well.
I found out how to cope with adversity. In
our collegiate matches, players called their own lines. Sooner
or later, I`d meet up with a cheater—he called every close shot
in his favor. But I realized that I gained nothing by
blowing my stack. I had to figure out another way to win.
And if I couldn`t…no whining. No one wants to hear it.
Are these better lessons for a kid than to
learn that his university is willing to recruit halfway around
the world so it can win tennis matches?
Maybe the team will never be above .500.
Maybe it will never beat the likes of Baylor who stretch the
rules to fulfill its lust to win
But important principles more important
than winning should be encouraged.
On the top of my
values list is promoting American ideals through the skills
and talents of young—wait for it— American athletes.
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has
been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column
is exclusive to VDARE.COM.